BY WAYNE PHILLIPS, SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
MOSHEIM - Of the 21 outs that West Greene recorded against Chuckey-Doak Monday afternoon at Hal Pruitt Field, Buffs pitcher Tyler Crigger got eight of them on bouncing balls back to the mound that he easily converted into lobs to first.
Crigger worked a complete game gem for the Buffs in a 3-2 victory over the Black Knights, allowing four hits while striking out only three but not walking a batter as his squad improved to 4-3 in the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference.
"Very, very nice job," winning Coach Mark Bowles said. "It was a big conference win for us and Tyler just pitched a whale of a game. He was around the base all day. He only threw 87 pitches."
Chuckey-Doak pitcher Kris Hinkle was certainly not shabby as he limited the Buffs to only six hits while striking out eight and walking two.
In addition the Knights' defense turned a spectacular, and very rare, triple play, in addition to a double play. But they just couldn't stop beating the ball into the ground against the pitches from Crigger as C-D dropped to 2-7 in Blue Ridge play.
The Buffs struck for two runs in the home half of the second inning to gain the upper hand in the pitchers' duel. Alex Gregory started it by reaching on a walk.
He stole second base, but not without some drama. Gregory over-ran the second base bag and Chuckey-Doak caught him in a rundown between second and third, but they allowed him to reach third base by throwing the ball away on a relay.
Braxton Potter brought him home with a solid base hit to right, the first hit of the game off Hinkle.
Potter would later score when with two out Tanner Earley laced a base hit to left. Tyler Earley, who was also on base after walking, was thrown out at home plate trying to score as well on the play.
In the bottom of the third, it appeared the Buffs were ready to break the game wide open. James Marshall was hit by a pitch and went to second when the Knights threw the ball away trying to pick Marshall off first.
Derrick Livingston then cracked a long double to the warning track in center, bringing home Marshall. Crigger followed with a single to right. With nobody out, Bowles called for a bunt, but the bunt turned into a fly ball that was caught by second baseman Alex McCamey.
McCamey fired back to first to get Crigger for the second out, then first baseman Tanner Barkley gunned down Livingston trying to scramble back to the third base bag.
Thus, it was a rare triple play, and instead of a very big inning for the Buffs, the Knights were out of a jam.
The play seemed to inspire the Knights and they plated their two runs off Crigger. Kenny Ball reached with a single to right and Alex McCamey followed with a base hit to left. The runners moved up on Hinkle's infield bouncer back to the pitcher.
Ball scored when the Buffs' outfield let a fly ball drop, and McCamey came home when Brent Knight bounced into an out at first base and the Buffs' lead had been whittled to 3-2.
But Crigger was up to the task. He retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings, and in the sixth he got all three outs on bouncers back to the mound.
In the seventh the Knights threatened when Barkley slapped a base hit to left with two outs and pinch hitter Brantley Darnell was hit by a pitch. But Crigger got Austin McCamey for the third out on, what else, a comebacker to the mound.
Tanner Earley, Livingston, and Potter had RBI hits for West Greene. Ball, Alex McCamey, Hinkle and Barkley had the four hits for the Knights.
The two teams meet again this afternoon at the Black Knights' Field. West Greene has a make-up conference game on Wednesday at Dale Alexander Field against Greeneville.